“They chose new gods; then there was war in the gates; NOT A SHIELD OR SPEAR WAS SEEN AMONG FORTY THOUSAND IN ISRAEL” (Judges 5:8
“Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears. But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goats. SO IT CAME ABOUT, ON THE DAY OF BATTLE, THAT THERE WAS NEITHER SWORD NOR SPEAR FOUND IN THE HAND OF ANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE WITH SAUL AND JONATHAN. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son” (1 Samuel 13:19-22).
NOT A SHIELD OR SPEAR WAS SEEN AMONG FORTY THOUSAND IN ISAREL! ON THE DAY OF BATTLE THERE WAS NEITHER SWORD NOR SPEAR FOUND IN THE HAND OF ANY OF THE PEOPLE! These words provide us with a tragic state of many within our churches today—and not only within many of our churches today but also many churches themselves. How are the enemies and adversaries that are in the land supposed to be vanquished by the people of God if there is neither shield nor spear in the hands of God’s people? How are the people of God supposed to engage in spiritual warfare if there is neither sword nor spear in any of their hands? It was the apostle Paul who wrote of the weapons of our warfare in the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints and it was this same apostle who also wrote of the full armor of God when writing to the saints which were at Ephesus. Beloved, there is a great need to recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they bring us face to face with something that might be true of you and is most certainly true of many within the church today. Consider the following words which are found—both in the tenth chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
The words which were presented at the outset of this were taken from the song which Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang after the LORD delivered Jabin the king of Canaan into their hands together with Sisera his commander and their nine hundred chariots of iron. What makes this song so incredibly telling and tragic, however, is that in spite of the great victory the people of God won during those days there was something to lament over. What happens when there is a battle that is raging in the land and the people of God do nothing? What happens when there is a battle raging in the land and the people of God fail to show up? What’s more is what happens when the people of God refuse to do nothing—despite the tremendous battle that is raging all around them in the land? It was Deborah in this passage who spoke of the highways being deserted, travelers walking along the byways, village life ceasing in Israel and war in the gates. Moreover Deborah also spoke about those in the land choosing new gods. This we ought not miss nor lose sight of for war will always come to the gates when the people of the land and/or the people of a nation choose new gods. War has come to the gates of this nation on September 11, 2001 when terrorists used our own airlines to attack our country. War came to the gates of this nation seven years later when the financial crisis and economic collapse took place. War once more came to the gates of this nation in December of 2019 and throughout all of 2020 and even continuing into 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic virtually shut the whole country—yea, even much of the world down.
Within this song Deborah and Barak sang of that time when the king of Canaan oppressed, afflicted and tormented the people of God. The fourth chapter describes how Jabin king of Canaan who reigned in Hager harshly oppressed the children of Israel for twenty years. Stop and think about that for just a moment as the people of God were harshly oppressed by the enemy and adversary for twenty years. What adds even more to this is when you consider the root cause of their being harshly oppressed by the enemy was because they once again had done what was right in the sight of the LORD and had given themselves over to iniquity and sin. The LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan who harshly oppressed them for twenty years with his commander Sisera and the nine-hundred chariots of iron. Through intimidation and fear the enemy and adversary was able to harshly oppress the people of God. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many men and women among us today are being harshly oppressed by the enemy through fear and intimidation. How many among us today are and have been harshly oppressed by the enemy for years as he continually intimidates, taunts, afflicts, mocks, ridicules and keeps them bound in prison to the spirit of fear?
Here in this song sang by Deborah and Barak—not only do we find that there was war in the gates but we also find that there was not a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel. How incredibly tragic this truly is as there was war at the gates and yet among forty thousand in Israel there was neither spear nor shield found in their hands. The question we must ask is why. Why was there not found shield or spear in the hands of forty thousand people? I believe the answer is found in the description of certain tribes among the children of Israel. Deborah and Barak spoke of there being among the divisions of Reuben great resolves of heart. Moreover it was asked of Reuben why they say among the sheepfolds to hear the pipings for the flocks. As if this weren’t enough it was also said of Reuben that they had great searchings of heart. It was also said that GIlead stayed beyond the Jordan and Dan remained on ships. Asher was no better for the tribe of Asher continued at the seashore and stayed by his inlets. It was only the people of Zebulun and Naphtali who responded to war at the gates and went forth to engage in battle against the enemy—“Zebulun is a people who jeopardized their lives to the point of death, Naphtali also, on the heights of the battlefield” (Judges 5:18).
The question was presented concerning why there was not a shield or spear found in the hands of forty thousand in Israel and the answer lies in what was said of Reuben, GIlead, Dan and Asher. When war was at the gates there were people of God who chose to sit back and do nothing. The question I am confronted with today is who has your weapons? If the apostle Paul spoke of weapons of our warfare and if he spoke of the full armor then why oh why are there those among us who are walking around without any weapons in their hands. Why are there people among us who aren’t clothed with the full armor of God? Why aren’t there men and women who are walking around without the sword of the Spirit in their hand and the shield of faith in their other? Moreover it must be asked who and what has stripped you of your armor and your weapons? I am convinced that one of the answers to this is found in the idleness and laziness of those who choose to do nothing in the midst of the battle. There are those among us who have neither sword nor spear in their hands because they choose a life of spiritual laziness, apathy, complacency and idleness rather than a vibrant life engaged in spiritual warfare? Oh there is a great danger when war is at the gates and the people of God choose to do nothing. There is a great danger when the time of battle is at hand and men (and women) choose to stay behind. Remember that it was at the time when kings went out to battle that David stayed behind in Jerusalem rather than go out and lead the people in battle. You will notice that it was when he chose not to fight that he opened himself up to adultery which would lead him down a path of lying and ultimately murder.
I asked the question who or what has stripped you of your armor and your weapons and one of the most profound answers to this question is that it is you yourself who have done it. You yourself have stripped yourself of your armor and have stripped the sword and the shield from your hands. You know you have been given weapons of warfare that are mighty through God and yet you choose apathy, complacency, laziness and idleness. When war is at the gates it is not the time to be spiritually lazy and sit back and do absolutely nothing. When the time of war and battle is present within the land it is not the time to stay behind in Jerusalem and be idle. It has often been said that idleness is the devil’s playground. Oh I would also say that boredom, lethargy, apathy and complacency are closely joined to this within the lives of the people of God. Oh the enemy and adversary has been at the gates—and not only at the gates but within the land—and it is said of countless hundreds, if not thousands that there is neither shield nor spear in their hands because they have chosen to remain spiritual apathetic and complacent in their walk with the LORD. Oh I would dare say the day you choose to stop fighting and the day you cease putting on the full armor of God and taking up the sword of the Spirit and the shield is the day that you begin to experience defeat and death within your life.
The question was presented—Who has your weapons—and I would also ask a separate question which is simply: How did the enemy take your weapons from you? During the days of Saul king of Israel and his son Jonathan the Philistines oppressed the people of Israel. As if the oppression of the enemy and adversary wasn’t enough it was said that there was neither sword nor spear in all of Israel. What a tragic picture of the people of God it is when none among them have sword or spirit. I asked the question who has your weapons and the answer is rather simple—the enemy has your weapons. Whether given to him voluntarily or involuntarily there are countless men and women who have given the weapons of their warfare to the enemy. There are men and women who have laid down the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God—that which is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword—and have chosen to cease fighting. There are men and women who have laid down the shield of faith and not only expose themselves to the fiery darts of the enemy but are no longer able to extinguish and guard themselves against them.
I firmly believe that there is a clarion call in the Spirit to get your weapons back. You have put down the sword of the Spirit and you have put down the shield of faith for far too long now and as a result the enemy has wreaked havoc in your life. The enemy has been able to have a field day with you, with your family, with your marriage, with your finances, with your job, with your relationships and with your home because you have put down your sword and your shield. You have allowed the enemy and adversary to manipulate you through fear, through intimidation, through doubt, through unbelief and the like and as a direct result you have opened and exposed yourself to his tactics. Remember in the Scripture that it was written how we are not ignorant of the devices and schemes of the enemy. The trouble is there are many men and women who might be aware of the tactics and schemes of the enemy, however, they are powerless to do anything about it because they have taken off their armor and have laid down their weapons. Who has your weapons? Why have you put down the sword? Why have you laid down the shield of faith? Why have you taken off your helmet? Why have you stripped yourself of the full armor of God, thus exposing yourself to all types of demonic activity within your life?
Notice that when speaking of the armor the apostle Paul instructs the believers to first be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might. This is incredibly important for when it comes to spiritual warfare and conflict we must first be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might. What’s more is that the apostle Paul uses the word “whole” when speaking of the armor of God. This is incredibly important because it suggests that there are those who might pick and choose what parts of the armor they would clothe themselves with. The apostle Paul admonishes the saints to put on the whole armor of God that they might be able to stand—and not only stand but stand against the wiles of the devil. Within this passage the apostle Paul speaks of the wiles of the devil as well as all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—if you are finding yourself unable to stand against the wiles of the devil nor quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one I would dare say you have taken off the armor and you have put down the weapons of your warfare. Why oh why if we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places would we dare strip ourselves of the armor we have been given and put down our weapons?
Beloved, now is not the time to strip ourselves of our armor. Now is not the time to lay down our weapons. Now is not the time to stop fighting. Now is not the time to have great searchings of heart. Now is not the time to stay behind during the time when kings go out to battle. War is at the gates and we are called to be those who not only stand but those who are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. There are many among us who have allowed the enemy to trick and deceive and manipulate them to taking their armor off and to lay their weapons down. There are many among us within our churches who might carry a physical Bible in their hands, however, they are not truly carrying the sword of the Spirit. There are men and women among us in our churches who have allowed the enemy and adversary to deceive them into a life of apathy, lethargy, and complacency and as a result have turned over their weapons. It must be noted that the enemy does not care if you go to church if he can keep you powerless and defenseless. Oh there are far too many powerless and defenseless Christians among us in our churches today with no armor on and having no weapons in their hands. Oh if there has ever been a time to rise up having put on the full armor or God and taking up the weapons of our warfare it’s now.
If you are one who has been defenseless and powerless before the enemy and adversary I would submit to you that you yourself have taken off your armor and have put down the weapons of your warfare. If the enemy can keep you powerless and defenseless you are no threat to him. What’s more is you might very well find yourself being open to a different type of conflict and battle—one against flesh and blood. The apostle Paul clearly stated that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The day we cease engaging these unseen and spiritual forces is the day we open ourselves up to engaging in unnecessary conflicts against flesh and blood. The day we view flesh and blood as the enemy is the day we have stopped engaging in spiritual warfare in the unseen and supernatural realm. Oh it is time for us to clothe ourselves once more with the full armor of God. It is time for us to once more take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God—that which is quick and powerful and pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is time for us to take up the shield of faith whereby we might quench all the fiery darts of the enemy and adversary within our lives. It is high time for us to clothe ourselves with the whole armor God that no wile of the devil might be able to prosper against us. Let us walk in the fullness of the reality of the words which Isaiah spoke when he wonderfully declared that “no weapon formed against you shall prosper.” It was Jesus who declared to the apostle Peter that it was upon this rock he would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. This does not mean the gates of hell will not try and prevail against the church but that they won’t prevail. Oh that we would be men and women who would rise up, take our weapons back, take our strength back, take our fight back, put on the whole armor and stand against the wiles of the enemy. Let us this day rise up as the army of God militant in battle as we proclaim that it is not by might nor by power but by the Spirit says the LORD. There is absolutely no room or place for retreat in the life of a militant man or woman of God. There is no running from the walls of Jericho. There is no running from Goliath. There is no running from enemy armies. There is no room for retreats or putting down our weapons. We must be those who are fully clothed with the whole armor of God at all times and take up the weapons of our warfare as we submit ourselves fully and completely to God and resist the devil knowing that he must flee from us and causing him to flee from us.